This week, Green Man festival announced their day-by-day stage line-ups, and – damn it – it has thrown up a few conundrums. Slint or East India Youth? The War On Drugs or Panda Bear? Neutral Milk Hotel or Kurt Vile, for heaven’s sake! With the strength of this year’s line-up, some serious clashes were inevitable. One tempting tactic is to just wander around in a daze and see where I end up, in order to avoid consciously making any heartrending decisions; there are plenty of new discoveries to be made in addition to the better known acts, after all, as this idyll in the Welsh hills is host to a dizzying array of interesting artists across the spectrum of indie, folk and – increasingly – electronic music, and much more besides.
Away from the main three stages, the Chai Wallahs always bring the leftfield goodness to every festival they grace (which is most these days), and the Green Man Rising stage should be a reliable place to spot the music stars of the future.
The festival also has a sterling reputation in the world of comedy, film and more esoteric cultural and intellectual pursuits. Comedy-wise, Josh Widdicombe brings the cheeky chappie schtick that has won over the world of mainstream TV, but I’m more excited about the likes of incisive character comic Jo Neary (possibly still best remembered as the oddball neighbour with necrophiliac tendencies in cult Johnny Vegas sitcom Ideal) and fast-rising sketch trio Pappy’s, masters of the format who never fail to deliver intelligent, original, silly and lively shows brimming with laughs.
The Talking Shop is the place to catch some well known speakers on subjects from politics to music to marijuana (well, one would presume so anyway: Howard Marks is on the bill). Einstein’s Garden is a feast for the mind – one look at the extensive line-up leads me to believe I would get brainier just from walking through it, but I’m sure I’ll be giving it more attention than that as it looks like a really unique little asset that this festival has cultivated.
Unusually, for an indie-folk orientated festival, Green Man also prides itself on a 24-hour party offering, with late night DJs including the likes of Hot Chip spinoff The 2 Bears, Simian Mobile Disco and eclectic cone-wobbling selector Ben UFO, for those craving bleeps, beats and bass, as well as round-the-campfire jams for a rootsier way to welcome the sunrise.
There are so many acts over the weekend to look forward to. Here is a by-no-means-exhaustive taster of tunes from some of them… let us know who you would add to this selection in the comments, if you like.
Neutral Milk Hotel – ‘In The Aeroplane Over The Sea’
With a cult following all over the world and a legendary live reputation, these American indie rockers brought joy to many last year with a reunion tour after a long hiatus. Their loose, open melodies and emotional delivery are epitomised in this song, guaranteed to be a singalong moment.
Sharon Van Etten – ‘Tarifa’
A bottomless pool of rich, caramel harmonies and honest, heart-on-sleeve lyrics characterise Brooklyn singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten’s noir-ish tunes… as comforting and life-affirming as the sound of the night time rain that will no doubt fall on your tent at some point over the weekend.
The War On Drugs – ‘Red Eyes’
Masters of the atmospheric slow-burn, the Philadelphia folk-rockers’ songs have a habit of creeping up on you and drawing you in, and even more so in their live shows; by the time the soaring guitar-led chorus hook of Red Eyes – the opening track from this year’s brilliant Lost In A Dream album – takes hold, you’ll want to be under its spell forever.
Caribou – ‘Can’t Do Without You’
The current single from the experimental Canadian producer is quite the irresistible poppy number, and if his set is as deep and varied as his output over the last decade or so, it will be a many layered and multicoloured treat.
Kurt Vile And The Violators – ‘Baby’s Arms’
The ex-War On Drugs collaborator, now best known for his solo material, performs live with his backing band The Violators. A deceptively complex web of musicality masquerading as a simple ditty, this is pure loveliness, but don’t think it will all be this laid-back.
Anna Calvi – ‘Love Won’t Be Leaving’
The scale of her sound and her artistic vision seemingly at odds with her diminutive stature and softly spoken nature, Anna Calvi’s whole live show bristles with passion and sultry heat, but the singer and guitarist really turns up the fire on her riveting guitar solo to ‘Love Won’t Be Leaving’, a behemoth that sees her switch from Edith Piaf to Jimmy Page and back again.
Mac Demarco – ‘Ode To Viceroy’
You can almost hear Mac Demarco’s wry, gap-toothed grin in his lo fi odes to everyday life, while the mischievous majesty of his guitar playing brings an almost tropical air to his slacker country blues. One part stoner bum, one part magical pixie – what more could anyone want?
Slint – ‘Good Morning, Captain’
It won’t necessarily be easy, but the moody math rock progenitors’ comeback is surely a must-see, and pretty much guaranteed to be unlike anything else on the bill here or elsewhere. Get lost in this one for a bit to put you in the mood.
9Bach – ‘Ffarwel’
If there’s one band who embody the spirit of Green Man it’s Welsh-language folk act 9Bach, with their fresh twists on the olde-worlde tradition. Fronted by eminently likeable singer and multi-instrumentalist Lisa Jen, they lit up the small venue they played in Brighton a couple of months ago, and this main stage set complete with home crowd should be a joyful affair well worth crawling out of your tent for on Sunday.
East India Youth – ‘Heaven, How Long’
Given how inhospitable some of his tunes initially sound, the mainstream love of East India Youth could be seen as surprising, but most of his tracks are hiding a pop song at their core. The build on this one is just plain evil, and it’s going to be magnetic in a live setting.
Panda Bear – ‘Bros’
The Animal Collective founder’s distinctive sound brims with catchy hooks amid an all-encompassing festive atmosphere, apt to get even the least dance-y crowd all fired up for the night ahead.
We’ll also be bringing you interviews with as many of the acts as we can waft a microphone at over the course of the weekend, as well as mustering up a round-up of the highlights from the depths of the post-festival haze… so stay tuned.
Meanwhile, find more info and buy your Green Man tickets from greenman.net. According to the website they expect to sell out in the next few days.